Kenya has struck its first substantive natural gas deposits near Malindi, further raising its profile as a potential oil and gas exporter.

An Australian oil prospecting company Pancontinental involved in drilling off the Kenyan coast said Monday morning it has encountered approximately 52 net metres (about 170 feet) of natural gas pay so far.

The firm says it struck the gas at the Mbawa deep-water well.


“The Mbawa 1 well has encountered approximately 52 net metres (approx. 170 feet) of natural gas pay in porous Cretaceous sandstones. The Mbawa 1 exploration well was drilled to a depth of 2,553m RT (below the drill floor), at which point wireline logs, fluid samples and sidewall cores were acquired from the well,” said Mr Barry Rushworth, Pancontinental Chief Executive and Director said in a statement.

The firm said the reservoir and fluid parameters will become available as logs and sample analyses are completed.

It says it has resumed drilling targeting 3,275 metres.

“While we have not finished operations in Mbawa 1, this gas discovery is very promising and it is the first ever substantive hydrocarbon discovery offshore Kenya. We are delighted to prove that there is a working hydrocarbon system offshore Kenya,” Mr Rushworth said.

The firm said further work continues to evaluate the size of the discovery.

“With drilling continuing to a deeper exploration target, these interim results may be the first part of the story in this well, and they are certainly just the beginning of the main story of oil and gas exploration offshore Kenya,” Mr Rushworth said.

The discovery comes at a time when Kenya has already struck oil and is waiting for further analysis to confirm if it the quantities are commercially viable.